Oct. 8, 2009
COLUMBIA, S.C. - No. 7 South Carolina will put its unbeaten record on the line this weekend when the team hosts Auburn and Alabama at Stone Stadium. The Gamecocks (11-0-1, 3-0-1 SEC) will take on Auburn (5-4-3, 2-2-0 SEC) Friday night at 7 p.m. on Senior Day, where South Carolina's seven seniors - the winningest senior class in program history - will be honored prior to the match.
South Carolina will then return to the pitch Sunday afternoon in the second match of a double-header with the men's team. The Gamecocks and Crimson Tide (5-4-1, 1-1-1 SEC) are scheduled to kickoff at 3:30 p.m.
South Carolina is 4-5-3 all-time in an evenly matched series with the Tigers. Against Alabama, the Gamecocks hold a 7-3-0 series advantage.
ON THE HORIZON
The Gamecocks hit the road to take on traditional SEC East powers Georgia and Tennessee. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 18 this week and will play Carolina Friday at 7 p.m.
Auburn enters the weekend in search of more victories after defeating Mississippi State and Arkansas in conference play in addition to earning a draw against then-No. 1 North Carolina to close out the non-conference slate. The Tigers have only been shutout of three games this season and are led in scoring by 2008 SEC Freshman of the Year Katy Frierson (4 goals, 4 assists, 12 points). True freshman Amy Howard has been solid in goal for Auburn and sports a 1.20 goals against average with 70 saves and two shutouts. She has twice earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors this season.
Alabama rebounded from a rough start of the season and is unbeaten in four of its last five games. The team is led by junior Victoria Frederick who has four goals and 10 points. Sophomore keeper Justine Bernier holds a 1.24 goals against average with 57 saves and three shutouts.
IN THE POLLS
One week after earning the highest ranking in program history, South Carolina climbed another spot this week to No. 7 in the latest NSCAA coaches poll. The Gamecocks also hold steady at No. 7 by Soccer Times and is ranked No. 8 by Soccer America magazine for a unanimous top 10 ranking for the second consecutive week.
LOWE'S SENIOR CLASS AWARD FINALIST Blakely Mattern NEEDS VOTES!
Senior defender Blakely Mattern has been named a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, presented annually in eight NCAA Division 1 Sports to a senior student-athlete who excels both on and off the field. Candidates are chosen based on their dedication and achievement in four areas: Classroom, Character, Community and Competition. Fan voting will help decide the winner. Visit "www.seniorclassaward.com" or text "W6" to 74567 to vote for Mattern.
PATTON GETS THE RECORD(S)
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Mollie Patton set a new South Carolina single-season shutout record when she grabbed her eighth shutout of the year in the win against Kentucky. She then set the career record in the next game at Ole Miss with her 16th shutout in 33 career games, surpassing the previous mark of 15 set by Laura Armstrong and Elise Matthews.
AT THE TOP OF THE NCAA LISTS
Noted as one of the top defensive teams in the country under Shelley Smith, South Carolina has continued that excellence this season and added a little offensive flair as well. The Gamecocks are ranked No. 3 in the NCAA in defense (0.245 goals against average) and No. 22 in scoring offense (2.50 goals/game). With that type of production, South Carolina is also at the top of the SEC lists in numerous categories. The team leads the conference in goals allowed, goals against average, shutouts, shots allowed, points allowed, assists, shot on goal percentage.
SENIOR CLASS SET THE BAR HIGH
The 2009 senior class will leave Columbia as the winningest senior class in program history. Entering weekend play, the group of seniors hold a 47-19-13 (.677) record, the most wins and best win-percentage for a South Carolina senior class. The group of seven has led Carolina to three consecutive SEC tournament appearances and two consecutive NCAA appearances.
APPROACHING THE RECORD
Senior defender Blakely Mattern has started every game of her career, and with 79 career starts is currently second all-time at South Carolina. She is on pace to surpass Ashley Kirk's record of 81 starts in the Oct. 16 away game at Georgia. She, along with Shannon Bigbie, Samantha Diaz-Matosas and Kim Miller, could surpass the games played record of 83 on the Oct. 22 home finale against Arkansas.
South Carolina is currently tied for the national lead with nine shutouts on the year and have allowed only three goals through the first 12 games of the season. Junior goalkeeper Mollie Patton continues to hold the national lead with nine solo shutouts and sports the top goals against average in the nation at 0.17.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Goals have been spread around the entire Gamecock team so far with a different player hitting the game-winning goal in eight of Carolina's 11 wins. Fourteen different players have scored a goal this season, and only half of those players have scored multiple goals this season: Kayla Grimsley, Kim Miller, Blakely Mattern, Samantha Diaz-Matosas, Lindsay Small, Brooke Jacobs and Christine Watts.